What do you do when the OP says they only want RAW but the RAW don't mention what they want? I went for "tell them the RAW are silent but give them your humble (and indeed tongue-in-cheek) opinion for a solution, but that was almost instantly downvoted, and not by the OP. So I left it as "say the RAW are silent but cite the nearest thing (making it clear these are not the RAW you seek)."

Is is enough just to say, "The RAW don't mention this"?

Can't see that being very popular with the OP or anyone else either. But unanswered questions are also bad, right?

I can see this being an ongoing issue as more people make the jump from 3.5, Pathfinder and other RAW-heavy systems to D&D 5e. I now wonder in this case if we should just quote the bits of the books telling DMs to wing it - though probably also not popular.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, I think the answer you eventually gave for the mounts question is excellent. Semantically though, I don't think "There is no RAW" really makes sense. That means that there are no rules, which is absurd. "RAW doesn't support this" or "RAW doesn't mention this" would seem like a more accurate statement. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Mar 11, 2015 at 19:09
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Side note, I hate that "unanswered questions are bad" stance. A question, imo, should remain unanswered until there is an answer. I've had questions of my own answered with non-answers simply because people with tons of rep wanted that particular queue clear. It's annoying and promotes not finding a proper answer, because less people pay attention to a question with an answer, accepted or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Mar 13, 2015 at 9:16

3 Answers 3


This is effectively a frame challenge. If you can show that there is no RAW, that there's community consensus that there is no RAW, and discuss alternatives that have worked for you in the past, you're less likely to be downvoted.

Questions that are unanswerable, because they're unclear, should be closed.

Questions that demonstrate a misunderstanding of the rules are subject to the frame challenge rules.

Questions that are just unknown shouldn't have an answer until they are known: we have 33 unanswered questions out of 11,140. I'm quite quite happy with our question answer rate, and see no need to rush to answer a question that requires thought or time (either in research, or waiting for discussions on other sites to resolve, or waiting for new books) to answer.


Two points that I think should be made here:

  • Unanswered questions aren't really an issue. If you don't have a good answer to a question, just don't answer it.
  • The specific question you're asking about requested either RAW that they missed OR a statement of designer intent. If they'd just asked for RAW, an answer of "there is no RAW" is difficult to prove, but if proven, is a perfectly good answer. In this case, though, "there is no RAW" should probably be backed up with "but the designers meant this".

Agree with Brian on its being a frame challenge, but you're correct that as 5e picks up the current ed RAW junkies are going to have a harder time of it, as many answers to such questions to the designers end up being replied to with a tweet that says "make it up, man." Because of this shift of tone, you're right that people demanding RAW are more often going to be left out in the cold, and they should be asking for Good Subjective answers. However, the way to get them to do that is to leave their "RAW only!" questions unanswered, to drive their behavior.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Or, y'know, we can just play other games that support our playstyle. I don't know why I'd try to force a RAW game on a system like 5e when systems that are intended to be played RAW (e.g. 3.5, Pathfinder) are around. Heck, if I was so particular as to demand some kind of only-current-edition byzantine rules-lawyering game, I could always just play Hackmaster. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2015 at 5:11

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